Carl James and Tom Picton set off eight months ago to drive to a little-visited speck on the map that caught their attention, I'm guessing, because it made for a catchy trip title, and no doubt also because it is situated a suitably massive distance from their temperate and leafy start point in South East England. Die Hel is a sun-baked kloof about 100 kilometres from Oudtshoorn on the Garden Route of South Africa, so named because ease of access was a missing feature for the early visitors to the area.
Easy is also not an adjective which the two friends wanted to apply to the trip they were planning. In their own words:
"A circumnavigation of Africa, the hardest way round we could have found".
So far their journey has taken them down the East coast of the continent, through Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. They are currently travelling through Angola on roads that are 'mostly potholes', with the tally of countries visited in Europe and Africa set to reach 40 by the time they return home. The journey has taken in a trip up Kilimanjaro, a freefall down the world's highest bungee jump and too many other nailbiting overlanding adventures to mention here.
So far it seems the biggest obstacle they've had to overcome has been a burned out Land Rover engine. This had to be totally rebuilt upon arrival in Cape Town, a huge job achieved with generous contributions from local mechanics and Land Rover specialists, Roverland.
Tom and Carl's adventure is being made both in aid of Alzheimer's research and to raise funds for education in Ethiopia. If you are able to contribute to either cause or would like to track their progress on the way home, visit them at www.tohelandback.org.uk. They're on Twitter and Facebook as well if you prefer, linked up on their site. The boys are also contributing man hours to various community projects along the route, and this too is expanded upon on the site.